BY AMANDA MOSES
On October 21st, Abe Stark Primary School (PS) 346 held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the official opening of their new school library. “Last spring we invested over $36,000 in culturally relevant and high interest books for our students in kindergarten through fifth grade. These materials are now a major piece of our classroom libraries supporting both our new literacy curriculum (Wit & Wisdom) and guided reading/independent reading initiatives,” said Principal Kevin Caifa.
For almost a year, room 341 was a clutter of books, desks, and other learning materials. It was tasked upon Ms. Danielle Bonin, the school librarian and character education teacher, to help organize the various sets
of reading material. Bonin was able to transform room 341 into a magical reading area.
“I wanted to create an environment where our children would be excited and learn to not only develop an interest in reading, but a love for it,” Bonin said proudly after cutting the ribbon to the new school library.
Every corner of the new library is utilized as either a reading nook or an area that motivates young readers to use their imagination. The words, “A book is a dream that you hold in your hands,” a quote by British author, Neil Gaiman the creator of Coraline, and other powerful adages are etched across the library’s walls. There are several carpeted areas for little children to sit and listen to their teachers read, and there are small couches, tables, bean bags, and other seats for older children to relax and enjoy their books.
Like other libraries, the books are organized and categorized alphabetically and by genre. Ms. Bonin even organized the books by grade and theme, so that the teachers are easily able to read a tale with mathematical themes or science experiments. On display for the spooktacular Halloween month were pumpkins the students made to represent their favorite literary characters, such as Captain Underpants, Harry Potter and Pete the Cat.
Ms. Bonin went as far as to place brick wallpaper, a faux fireplace and leather couches to cultivate an old fashioned café library ambiance. “As a child, I remember always looking for that special nook in my house where I could comfortably settle in and get lost in my reading. I wanted to recreate that feeling from my childhood. I want students to find that special place in the library themselves, a place for them to learn cooperatively with their peers and for teachers to collaborate,” Ms. Bonin said tearfully as she looked at the awe in the children’s faces while they explored the library.
“I invested my heart in creating this library, and it all came from a place of love, and I hope everyone who walks in here can feel that love,” she said.
Students are also encouraged to research and participate in reading computer programs using Mac desktops. In addition there is an area where a small group of children can listen to audio-books together, which is next to the “Affirmation Station,” a mirror with confidence boosting quotes, such as “I am wonderful, I am special, and I am lovable.”
“This summer we embarked on creating an educational environment where students can embrace quality literature in a space that would promote excitement and learning. Our goal is to provide each and every student in our school an opportunity to maximize their educational experience while providing the best chance to be well prepared for their future,” Caifa said.
Photos by Amanda Moses